By Fred Albers, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent
SCOTTSDALE, ARIZ. -- The combination of warmer temperatures and altitude led to some phenomenal distances in the second round of the Waste Management Open on Friday.
Phil Mickelson hit a 358-yard drive, followed by a 191-yard 8-iron to reach the 550-yard 15th hole in two shots. He then converted a four-foot eagle putt. Mickelson also used a 3-wood to drive the green at the 344-yard 17th hole that led to a two-putt birdie from 72 feet.
Patience: After shooting a 60 in the opening round, Phil Mickelson made six pedestrian pars to begin play on Friday. Many players would have been frustrated, some would have been mad. Mickelson showed restraint and patience, until finally making a birdie on the seventh hole. That opened the cookie jar. His patience was rewarded with a rush of red numbers, finishing with six birdies and an eagle over the final 12 holes.
Club selection: Mickelson hit 3-wood into the water at the 18th hole resulting in a double bogey. Should he have hit driver? The carry over the water and bunker is 300 yards, which Mickelson could easily handle. Instead, Phil tried to draw a 3-wood off the lake and short of the bunkers on the right-hand side. He had used the 3-wood successfully back at the 11th and 17th, leading to birdie and tried to duplicate it at the 18th. Mickelson reasoned he was hitting his irons so well, anything in the fairway would allow him to control his approach into the green, giving him one final birdie opportunity. It may have been the correct decision, but it was poor execution.
Ping: Scottsdale is the home of Ping, which means their staff players can do a lot of tinkering with their equipment. Jeff Maggert made the switch to the G-25 driver and I don’t think he regrets the move. Maggert hit 14 of 14 fairways in the first round and is 23 of 28 for the week, which is a tournament best.
Home game: Robert Garrigus lives in Phoenix and frequently plays TPC Scottsdale. He enjoys the home cooking and local knowledge but admits there are challenges to playing in his hometown. Garrigus says he had requests for more than 100 tickets this week. The advantage of sleeping at home every night might be negated by the extra effort needed to accommodate family and friends.
Weekend: With a four-shot lead, Phil Mickelson is a prohibitive favorite to win this weekend but don’t sell Bill Haas short. He’s hit 20 of 28 fairways, 29 greens and used just 53 putts in 26 holes. Haas trails only Brian Gay in strokes gained-putting for 36 holes. If Phil stumbles, don’t be surprised to see Haas hot in pursuit.
Popularity: Phil Mickelson is Arizona’s favorite son. He went to school at Arizona State and used to live in Phoenix, so it’s not surprising Mickelson is loved at TPC Scottsdale. Phil makes sure that is not unrequited love. After making eagle on the 15th hole, Mickelson spotted a young girl in the gallery, then walked over and handed her the prized golf ball. Several thousand golf fans witnessed his generosity and will be members of the Phil Mickelson fan club for life.
Fred Albers is a course reporter for SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio. For more information on SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio, click here.